The Database Report – July 2008
Reporting on Database Industry News from April through June 2008
Published: July 1, 2008
Craig Mullins provides his quarterly review of the activities within the database market during April, May and June of 2008.
I guess the old adage that “time flies when you’re having fun” holds true. Here we are, already halfway through 2008, which means that it is time, once again, to review the news, views and rumors within the DBMS industry over the course of the past quarter.
While not as interesting as the first quarter and its exciting acquisitions (MySQL and BEA Systems), the second quarter of 2008 held its share of intrigue and activity. So let’s dig right in and examine the goings on in the world of data and database systems in this quarter’s edition of The Database Report!
This Quarter’s Acquisitions
We will begin our coverage by taking a look at everybody’s favorite news, and that means acquisitions. Oracle started things up by acquiring the e-TEST suite of web application testing products from Empirix. This deal was actually announced late in March 2008.
The e-TEST suite is comprised of three integrated components:
Oracle stated that it plans to incorporate the e-TEST tools into its existing application testing offering. The deal was completed in early June 2008, with all support for existing customers transitioned to Oracle. The financial terms of this deal were not disclosed.
And in mid May, Oracle announced plans to buy AdminServer, a Pennsylvania company that makes policy administration software for the insurance industry. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.
This acquisition could be the opening salvo in the insurance application realm. Although insurance software companies have been acquired before, the deals were typically initiated by investment firms, not large enterprise software concerns such as Oracle.
Oracle plans to create a new global business unit led by AdminServer's CEO, Rick Connors. The division will focus on serving the insurance industry with enterprise applications.
IBM was actually busier than Oracle on the acquisition front this quarter, announcing its intentions to acquire FilesX and Diligent.
In mid April, IBM announced it was acquiring FilesX, a privately held storage software company that specializes in continuous data protection (CDP) and data and application recovery software. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The FilesX product, called Xpress Restore CDP, is a CDP and recovery management platform for Windows servers in both data centers and remote locations. The product continuously captures data changes at the block level and offers an instant restore capability to help get applications back up and operational very rapidly following a data loss, while full data recovery is performed in the background.
The expectation is that the FilesX block-level CDP technology will be used to complement IBM’s existing Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files offering. But existing IBM customers will see no change to the current Tivoli Storage Manager environment after the FilesX technology is integrated into the IBM portfolio.
A little later in April, IBM announced that it was acquiring additional storage technology, this time by grabbing enterprise data de-duplication vendor Diligent Technologies. Again, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but IBM indicated that Diligent's technologies and employees will become part of the IBM System Storage business unit of the IBM Systems and Technology Group.
Diligent develops in-line data de-duplication software that is integrated with server and storage infrastructures to help organizations significantly reduce the amount and cost of physical storage required in data centers. Data de-duplication is an emerging technology, and Diligent's technology provides a single solution to support data protection, archive and data-retention applications – all while maintaining the integrity of the data.
“Diligent’s data de-duplication software is a critical technology that will be integrated into the IBM Storage portfolio to further extend our information infrastructure strategy, allowing our clients to eliminate redundant data and streamline the infrastructure required to support their business…” said Andy Monshaw, general manager, IBM System Storage.
Diligent has approximately 100 employees and more than 200 customers.
And in late April, IBM announced it had acquired InfoDyne Corp. (based in Park Ridge, IL), a provider of high-speed platforms and data feed connectors. And again, financial details were not disclosed.
InfoDyne provides software that is designed to enable today’s highly competitive trading firms and other venues to process exploding data volumes at microsecond response rates. InfoDyne’s market data delivery platform and rich feed handler portfolio take data from hundreds of sources and deliver it in a standardized format, helping customers to control escalating data feed costs.
According to IBM, InfoDyne complements its software products for the financial markets industry, such as WebSphere Front Office for Financial Markets, and other WebSphere offerings. Post acquisition, the InfoDyne products will become part of the IBM Software Group WebSphere software brand.
Combined with InfoDyne, IBM now offers a comprehensive software portfolio to address the need for real-time and ultra-high speed data delivery and consumption.
In our final bit of acquisition related news, small DBMS vendors ANTs Software took some steps to differentiate itself this quarter. In late May, ANTs announced its intention to acquire Inventa Technologies, a provider of application and database managed services. At the same time, ANTs also announced that it had signed an agreement to sell its ANTS data server to Four J’s, a provider of development tools for business applications. The ANTS data server will be rebranded and sold by Four J’s under the name Genero db.
So ANTs is now out of the database server business, and Four J’s is in. So what does that mean for ANTs? ANTs will focus on its ANTs Compatibility Server. The ANTs Compatibility Server allows application code – queries, stored procedures and functions – from legacy databases to run natively and transparently against a new database with minimal or no modification or rewriting required. The acquisition of Inventa brings additional experienced professional services to the fold to deploy its Compatibility Server offerings.
IBM Q1 Financial Results
In mid April, IBM announced its first quarter 2008 earnings, which came in at $1.65 per share. This represented a 36 percent increase over the same quarter in 2007 when earnings per share were $1.21. And income from continuing operations was $2.3 billion compared with $1.8 billion in the first quarter of 2007. Total revenues for the quarter were $24.5 billion, an increase of 11% over the same quarter in 2007. So, it was a very nice first quarter for IBM.
“IBM had a very good quarter, and a good start to 2008,” said Samuel J. Palmisano, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer. He added, “We feel good about the rest of the year.”
Let’s keep digging into the vast reams of numbers in IBM’s financial reports to try to identify the results for IBM’s database offerings. Revenues from the Software segment were $4.8 billion, an increase of 14% compared with the first quarter of 2007. Revenues from IBM’s middleware products, which primarily include WebSphere, Information Management, Tivoli, Lotus and Rational products, were $3.8 billion, up 16% versus the first quarter of 2007. Operating systems revenues of $529 million increased 1% compared with the prior-year quarter.
Revenues for Information Management software, which includes DB2 as well as all of IBM’s “information on demand” offerings, increased 27% and includes growth from the acquisition of Cognos, which closed in the quarter.
Microsoft Q3 Financial Results
In late April, Microsoft Corp. announced third quarter revenue, operating income and diluted earnings per share of $14.45 billion, $4.41 billion and $0.47, respectively.
Entertainment and Devices revenue for the quarter grew 68% over the comparable period last year driven by robust demand for Xbox 360 consoles. Cumulative console sales surpassed 19 million during the quarter, up 74% from a year ago. Server and Tools revenue growth of 18% added to its string of consecutive double-digit revenue growth quarters, which now stands at 23. The Server and Tools group is where SQL Server resides.
“The breadth of our product offerings and our ability to provide solutions across a range of customer and partner needs paid off again this quarter. The third quarter also kicked off the largest enterprise platform launch in our company history, which highlights Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008,” said Kevin Turner, chief operating officer of Microsoft. “These new products strengthen our ability to help business customers and partners save money, optimize their people, processes and technology, and position IT as a strategic asset for their businesses.”
Of course, a launch is not a product ship. SQL Server 2008 may have been launched during the quarter, but it will not ship for general availability (GA) until the calendar third quarter of 2008, a quarter later than Microsoft had originally indicated it would be available. And that is most likely why Microsoft launched a product that was not GA this past quarter.
Oracle Q3 Financial Results
In late March, Oracle announced fiscal 2008 Q3 earnings per share were up 30% to $0.26, compared to the same quarter last year. Third quarter total revenues were up 21% to $5.3 billion, while quarterly operating income was up 35% to $1.9 billion and net income was up 30% to $1.3 billion.
Total software revenues were up 21% to $4.2 billion with new software license revenues up 16% to $1.6 billion. Database and middleware new license revenues were up 20% to $1.165 billion from $967 million the quarter before. Applications new license revenues were up 7% over the same quarter last year, but were down over the previous quarter (Q2). Software license updates and product support revenues were up 25% to $2.6 billion. Service revenues were up 21% to $1.1 billion, compared to the same quarter last year.
As strong as these results appear to be, analysts were disappointed because they missed expectations. Oracle’s $1.34 billion in earnings met Wall Street’s estimates, but its $5.35 billion in sales fell short. This caused a 7% drop in Oracle’s stock the day after the report, which also impacted many other tech stocks.
Adding to the concern is the fact that prior to the Q3 earnings reports, Oracle had either matched or beaten the consensus estimate for its quarterly results in each of the last 12 reporting periods. So analysts were likely taken aback by the miss.
At any rate, the database results were strong, and that is good news. But Oracle’s applications revenue does not look like it is growing as rapidly as might be expected. Oracle has thrown a lot of money into building a mighty arsenal of packaged applications and will likely try to stoke the fires to improve upon the 7% growth of the past quarter. Overall though, things are probably not as bleak as the financial press painted them to be. Oracle is still a very strong company and I’d be surprised if things are not in better order the next time we look at their financial results.
The Oracle – SAP Lawsuit and Trial
And what happened this quarter in the ongoing lawsuit between Oracle and SAP? Well, let’s back up a minute and describe what this is all about for those who have not been following this. It all started early in 2007 when Oracle sued SAP claiming that SAP stole Oracle’s trade secrets. More accurately, the claim is that TomorrowNow, a subsidiary of SAP, had accessed Oracle’s software documentation inappropriately. You can read the complaint in its entirety at http://www.oracle.com/sapsuit/complaint.pdf.
Okay, so what happened this quarter? Late in March, a court-appointed official in California denied SAP’s request that Oracle’s general counsel not be allowed to obtain access to certain confidential information related to the lawsuit. SAP contended that sensitive and strategic information could find its way into the hands of Oracle’s top executives.
Then in late April, there was a Case Management Conference to start mapping out the subsequent legal proceedings. This resulted in the following schedule:
So, if you thought this was going to be over quickly, think again. we may be tracking this case for the next three years. You can follow along on all the arcane details if you would like at the website set up for this lawsuit.
SAP and BI
Early in the quarter, SAP made public its decision to phase out some of its business intelligence offerings in the wake of its acquisition of Business Objects. The goal is to reduce the overlap between its previously existing products and the products gained in the Business Objects acquisition. Well, the actual landscape was a bit more complicated than that if you factor in SAP’s prior acquisition of Pilot Software and OutlookSoft, and Business Objects’ prior acquisition of ALG, SRC and Cartesis.
For financial planning, SAP will maintain and develop SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (SAP-BPC), which came from OutlookSoft. SAP will attempt to migrate customers using Business Objects’ SRC software to the SAP-BPC offering.
For profitability and cost management, Business Objects’ Activity Analysis, which had its genesis at ALG, will be the offering. Prior to the acquisition SAP was reselling a tool from Acorn Systems in this area.
For financial consolidation, SAP has a dual product strategy. Business Objects’ Cartesis software will be targeted at customers needing to perform complex, global consolidation work involving numerous regulatory requirements. Customers who want a unified planning and consolidation tool will be offered SAP-BPC, which is the former OutlookSoft product.
For strategy management (including dashboards and scorecards), SAP Strategy Management, which came to SAP from Pilot Software, will be the preferred solution.
SAP intends to support the products it retires for at least three years. Typically, this means security patches, bug fixes and limited support, but no significant new features.
These announcements do not tackle every area with overlap in the BI space, but it is a good first step.
The Most Influential People in IT?
In early April, eWeek Magazine published a list of the 100 people with the most influence on IT. At the top of that list was Oracle’s savvy CEO, Larry Ellison. He was slotted in at number one for his “plans to roll up the enterprise applications space” and for managing “to cement (Oracle’s) status as one of the world’s most important applications and middleware vendors.”
The only other interesting person on the list from the perspective of the database industry was at number twenty five, Henning Kagermann, Co-CEO of SAP.
Big No News Regarding DB2
IBM had to react to an overzealous report that the company might be open sourcing DB2. Now those of us who use DB2 regularly knew that this was unlikely, but the story gained legs and IBM had to respond.
It all started when Chris Livesey, IBM’s director of information management software in the UK, told a UK reporter that changing conditions in the market might cause IBM to make DB2 open source. Of course, this was one person’s opinion on possible future contingencies. But it was reported under a big headline stating that IBM May Open Source DB2.
An IBM spokeswoman emailed the following response: “IBM has no plans to open source DB2.” Well, of course, it doesn’t! You don’t open source a cash cow like DB2.
IBM Solid as a Rock?
In early June at its European Information on Demand conference, IBM announced the general availability of solidDB. IBM acquired Solid in January 2008, and in less than six months was able to deliver a new production version of the technology.
For those who do not remember, solidDB is an in-memory DBMS offering. It keeps data in main memory at all times, thereby enabling faster data access by an order of magnitude over disk. The solidDB offering can be implemented stand-alone, or as a cache to the family of data servers, including IBM’s mainframe DB2 technology as well as the Informix Dynamic Server (IDS).
MySQL Causing a Commotion in the Open Source Community
MySQL’s plans to provide certain features only to paying customers caused somewhat of a dustup in the open source community.
In early April, officials at Sun Microsystems (which acquired MySQL last quarter), confirmed that new online backup capabilities will be offered only to MySQL Enterprise customers. Predictably, this set the open source community and blogosphere on fire with anger and speculation. This is interesting news for the open source community because it makes it appear that MySQL is moving away from a true open source model to a proprietary model.
Open source advocates believe that these features should be provided to all MySQL users, not just those who pay for the advanced version of MySQL. By segregating features and making them only available to paying customers, Sun is raising fears that it will abandon open source as it attempts to compete with IBM, Oracle and Microsoft.
Several bloggers suggested that MySQL users should take their business elsewhere, for example, to other open source DBMS solutions such as PostgreSQL and Enterprise DB. Not all of the chatter was negative, with some attempting to support the decision. The thinking goes that additional areas that improve revenue generation (such as this one) might bolster the long-term viability of MySQL. It will be interesting to see if, and how much, this hurts MySQL usage and adoption. Some believe it will cause MySQL to lose feedback and contributions from its users in the open source community.
At the same time, Sun was rolling out a new upgrade of MySQL – Version 5.1. Among the improvements included in the new release are partitioning, row-based replication, event scheduling and disk-based clustering. There is nothing groundbreaking about these features, but they may be able to help MySQL better compete with IBM, Oracle and Microsoft.
MySQL Gets a Kickfire in the Warehouse Pants
Kickfire announced a new approach to achieving fast MySQL database query performance. It will deliver a database appliance for the MySQL market that loosens the I/O bottleneck that slows data queries by pulling data directly from memory without the need for registers or cache. The product is slated to be generally available in fall of 2008.
With Kickfire technology, a SQL query is broken into a parallel execution plan that is then fed to a specialized chip, allowing it to process the data in parallel. After the data is retrieved from memory in a compressed format, it flows into the SQL chip and is processed as it passes through.
The idea is to offer an environment tuned for query processing and data warehousing. If the technology is viable and affordable, it could help to bring MySQL into the data warehousing market – a market it heretofore has not penetrated.
Teradata Announces Data Warehouse Appliances
And while we are talking about data warehousing and appliances, we would be remiss if we did not mention Teradata’s announcement of its new family of data warehousing platforms. Essentially, Teradata has delivered three flavors of data warehouse appliance, which the company rolled out in April.
The new, platform family members include:
You can get details about the three new appliances in the Teradata press release.
Sybase and Sun Set Guinness World Record for World’s Largest Data Warehouse
In mid May, Sybase announced that the Sybase IQ analytics server had set a new Guinness World Record by powering the world’s largest data warehouse on a Sun SPARC Enterprise M9000 server.
Ho hum, I bet the record will be broken soon. I’m not overly impressed with benchmark numbers and world record announcements, but it made the news this quarter, so I had to mention it.
What About Ingres?
Ingres Corporation made the news this quarter, too. First of all, in late May, the company announced an open source version of Ingres OpenROAD, Ingres’ platform for rapid application development. The open source version of Ingres OpenROAD is now available as a free download via the Ingres community website.
To help build a successful community around Ingres OpenROAD, the company has created a number of community tools to aid in the support of the open sourcing initiative, including LXR for source code viewing, bug tool for tracking and entering bugs, a community wiki for sharing information and to gather ideas on new projects.
Ingres also announced this quarter that it was stepping up its involvement in the open source community to drive validation and adoption of open source. Among the company’s open source initiatives are the Ingres Janitors Project, Open Source Boot Camp, and the Global Ingres University Alliance.
“Ingres is committed to furthering the success of open source technology,” said Emma McGrattan, senior vice president of engineering at Ingres. “Today, open source technology has reached a tipping point as more and more enterprises understand the value that comes from open source and the potential cost savings it provides companies.”
Thus we come to the end of the second quarter installment of The Database Report. The market continues to grow with many new and interesting activities, releases and products. Make sure you don’t miss out on any of them by checking in with us each quarter to learn about what’s new with your favorite databases.
Recent articles by Craig S. Mullins
Craig S. Mullins - Craig S. Mullins is a data management strategist and principal consultant for Mullins Consulting, Inc. He has three decades of experience in the field of database management, including working with DB2 for z/OS since Version 1. Craig is also an IBM Information Champion and is the author of two books: DB2 Developer’s Guide and Database Administration:The Complete Guide to Practices and Procedures. You can contact Craig via his website.